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In 2007, 265.5 million pounds of fireworks were detonated, as compared to a mere 29 million pounds just 30 years before . Whether the simple firecrackers are your favorite or perhaps the weeping willows, be careful when you head out for this year’s fireworks display. Over the course of a beautiful fireworks presentation, you can get permanent hearing loss. Any time you hearing ringing, have pain in your ears, or have trouble understanding the speech of others after a loud noise, this means you have lost some of your hearing. Anything over 85 decibels is unsafe for your ears, and fireworks can produce sounds up to 125 decibels! The good news is that up to 40 percent of hearing loss can be prevented . How can you prepare for the fourth?

Bring Your Earplugs

Earplugs should be put in your ears right before the show and should remain there for the entirety of the show. They are a cheap, often disposable form of safety. Earplugs can be made of silicon, wax, foam or plastic. Some mold to your ears, while others are one size fits all. Be careful with your use! Fight the urge to push your earplugs deeper into your ears because this can push wax, buildup, and unwanted debris into the ear canal where it can be detrimental to your hearing. By pushing the earplug into the ear canal, air pressure can rise and cause pain in the ear drum. However, when used properly, earplugs can allow you to withstand higher decibels of noise for a more extended period of time and can prevent hearing loss.

Keep Your Distance

The closer you are to a fireworks display or speakers, the more likely you are to experience hearing loss. Hearing Americana tunes may add to the mystique of the fireworks display, but you do not have to be right next to the speakers to enjoy the music. Try to stand back and park your blanket at the back of the crowd. After all, there are no bad seats at a fireworks show!

Individually Treat Your Hearing

Not everyone has the same hearing or tolerance to loud noises. What may be okay for your neighbor may not be okay for you or your children or parents. Be sure to check in with your group to ensure that everyone feels comfortable exposing themselves to the fireworks display for the extended amount of time. You can always move farther back into the crowd or leave before the finale. A helpful hint is to stay in your car. The barrier of car can block much of the noise, and you can still watch the fireworks display out of the sunroof .

Stay Home

The final and easiest solution is to just stay home. Chances are your local television station will broadcast a fireworks display that can be just as enjoyable for the entire family. As an added perk, you don’t need to find parking, don’t have to wait in line to use the bathroom, and might avoid permanent hearing loss!

Just remember, prepare for the boom of the Fourth of July and your ears will thank you.

By: Diana Michel

Sources: Better Hearing, ASHA